Doing Community: What It Means To Me

We live hard and fast every day, rising each morning to the job, home life and the in-between. Where did we ever find the time to be on the computer as much as we are? Yet here we are scrolling away!

Recently we sold our Southington home of twelve years and wanted to give kudos to a few Southington people and organizations that helped us transition. First and foremost, Facebook’s Southington Talks (ST) group  has become a valuable resource to anyone living there. I found a post that asked for donations for The Southington Historical Society‘s part in a Town Wide Tag Sale scheduled Sept. 24 – 25 from 9am – 2pm at Old South End Schoolhouse.

Two angels named Morgan and Lisa, removed furniture, personal treasures, and cleaning supplies from our home with willingness and a smile. This came at a stressful time trying when we were preparing to downsize a 5 bedroom house into a 2 bedroom rental. We simply had too much stuff and were unwilling to store stuff we hadn’t used in years.

Morgan, a volunteer, picked up furniture and supplies for Southington Historical Society tag sale.

Morgan, a volunteer, picked up furniture and supplies for Southington Historical Society tag sale.

Morgan ties a wrought iron bench I purchased in Maine and loved dearly, was now a 'move' casualty.

Morgan ties a wrought iron bench I purchased in Maine and loved dearly, was now a ‘move’ casualty.

The Southington Magazine, a Facebook page I manage, also helped big time. Roger Dietz, publisher, works hard at getting small business advertisers into the magazine.

Dee's Cleaning Service

Dee’s Cleaning Service

I hired one such business, Dee’s Cleaning Service, where Denise Buttie, (owner) and Kelly Krajewski provided a super one-time/moving cleaning service I’d highly recommend.

Being part of a town where people help people, thank you Southington for your assist. To those who are reading this: hire local businesses and donate when you can, whether it’s your time, food from your pantry or your smile. That’s what doing community means…. be where you are and look for the good that is around you. It will come back to you ten times more in love and good feelings!

Giving Thanks To Volunteers

May 24th, 2016 the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford honored companies and individuals for their continued volunteerism at 2015-2016 Campaign Award and Recognition Program ceremony hosted and sponsored by MidState Medical Center in Meriden.

The first Corporate and Employee donations described as Diamond, Platinum and Gold levels were recognized followed by Silver and Bronze level donations, Loyal Community Partners, Exceptional Agency Partners, Outstanding Community Partners, Outstanding Campaign Leadership and Outstanding Campaign Coordinators and lastly, Shining Star and Rising Star volunteers.

Imagine how wide a net volunteerism expands for each category, as each company participated in specific campaigns whose efforts impacted many needing assistance.

While many who volunteer don’t do so for recognition, it was great to see the faces behind the companies that sponsor workplace volunteer programs. Participants give of their time and efforts truly do so for the needs exist.

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Diana Reilly, Associate Director of United Way of Meriden and Wallingford, confirmed there’s been steady growth in company involvement as seen in Week of Action, Day of Caring and holiday programs. Some companies such as The Marlin Company (TMC), did something different for Week of Action June’15 campaign. TMC breakfast cereal fundraiser collected healthy cereals that had limited amounts of sugar. This concept both addressed the need to come up with donations, and considered the health benefits of the collections raised.

The 2016 United Way NFL Player’s Weekend is another unique giving opportunity that incorporates tons of excitement for sports enthusiasts of all ages. Families meet players and participate in silent and live auctions of signed and authenticated jerseys of favorite teams in addition to youth sports clinics.

To learn about the different ways you can give and which organizations benefit from campaigns, visit United Way of Meriden and Wallingford at https://www.unitedwaymw.org/default.asp.

If you are an individual who’d like to volunteer, or a Wallingford/Meriden company that would like to participate in a campaign, contact: Diana Reilly at (203) 235-4403.

 

Nurturing Volunteerism in Wallingford

Do you notice every day is a commemoration of some sort? Noteworthy days make for great social media posts, but more importantly, they raise awareness of a cause. The entire month of April serves to recognize volunteers and is referred to as National Volunteer Appreciation Month.

The tradition began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, through an executive order. The purpose was to prompt people to give their  time to community outreach organizations.

Giving time and resources to needy causes is something everyone should do when they’re able. CT Food Bank in Wallingford welcomes help from individuals and companies to assist them in the fight against hunger. According to CT Food Bank, one in seven people struggle with hunger in Connecticut.

There are several ways to give and many do through donations. However, on site volunteerism is also needed, as it defrays operating costs.

The Marlin Company, PPI Benefit Solutions, Arbella Insurance CT, and Edible Arrangements are just a few neighboring Wallingford companies that have stepped up to helping The Connecticut Food Bank.

Marlin employees recently gave their time and muscle for a morning shift that consisted of labelling frozen fish patties with ingredient stickers and repacking boxes for distribution to food pantries and programs throughout the state.

To learn how you can help year-round, visit http://www.ctfoodbank.org/ways-to-give/

For Many Veterans Wounds Still Hurt

On Veterans Day it’s hard to miss the recognition many deserving troops and individuals received. Social media played its part with Walmart’s Green Light A Vet campaign. A simple idea: replace a front porch light bulb with a green one, to signify support. Walmart provided what the symbolism represents: to “Greenlight” is to forward movement, and by showing with the first sign of a home, a lit green porch light, is (hopefully), ‘greenlighting’  and signifying veterans forward, as valued members of every community.

Every other week I anticipate seeing Dana (first name), a sergeant who served in the Vietnam War, (due to HIPPA last name is omitted). Dana, age 65, lives in a skilled nursing facility where he gets help for ongoing PTSD, COPD and other physical limitations.

The nursing facility planned special festivities for Veterans Day, as Dana wasn’t the only resident veteran. This was to be their day, beginning with a celebratory special breakfast followed by activities planned throughout the day. I envisioned Dana enjoying the commemorations, after all it is a day of thanks for those who served.

Dana shares his experiences of fighting and rescuing fellow soldiers during his service in the Vietnam War.

Dana shares his experiences of fighting in doing rescue missions during his service in the Vietnam War.

I’d become accustomed to hearing animated stories where I learned much about Dana. Besides sharing his terrific sense of humor, Dana shared war stories, some of which were quite gruesome. Sgt. Dana was part of  a specialized training group, called The Studies and Observations Group, or (SOG) and fought on Hamburger Hill. He’s one of the lucky few who lived to tell his story.

Dana enjoyed breakfast but insisted on steering clear from the music and socializing activities at The Summit. I asked why he preferred not to be recognized and he replied, “I don’t want to remember the bad things that happened.” Not meaning to be different, Dana’s response is one of self-preservation.

Reflecting back on being in the jungle, carrying out fallen soldiers while escaping the enemy is as fresh a memory as yesterday for Dana. He is proud of his service but broadcasting those tough times isn’t his style.

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Dana shares war stories and shows me a framed collection of medals he earned from serving in the Vietnam War.

While companies such as Walmart bring attention to veterans, some prefer to choose when and where to talk, not on any particular day or place. The results of the Green Light A Vet campaign recorded 3,433,638 clicks as of December 15th at 11:20 a.m., EST. According to the Walmart campaign site “Every click counts as a social act of support in honor of our veterans, and will be displayed on The Greenlight Beacon, a glowing installation symbolizing our united support for veterans.”

The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 in Southington, CT promoted Green Light A Vet although I didn’t see too many home porch lights go from yellow to green, albeit one, who kept it up past November and into December where it can easily be mistaken as a Christmas decoration.

Dana's service cap from the Vietnam War.

Dana’s service cap from the Vietnam War.

I couldn’t be more thankful for Dana’s service and for meeting him through the Adopt-A-Veteran program at The Summit At Plantsville. Conversation, story sharing and spending time are ways to show others we care.

If you would like volunteer for this program, please call 860 628-0364. If Southington, CT isn’t convenient, reach out to a nursing home where you live. The experience is something you’ll wind up cherishing. What you give comes back bigger in heart and spirit.